NJ 3rd-worst in U.S. for corporate taxes, policy researchers say
Only two states have a worse corporate tax climate than New Jersey, and the Garden State continues to rank dead last overall in a collection of metrics measured by the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Tax Foundation.
Neither the corporate nor the overall ratings were able to push past any other states in the 2022 Tax Foundation report, according to policy analyst Janelle Cammenga. The 50th overall rank dates back to at least 2016, if not earlier.
Cammenga said seeing New Jersey consistently at the bottom is frustrating, because unlike natural resources or the educational system, tax policy is something lawmakers in a state can change immediately.
Just because a state has a corporate income tax doesn't mean it can't score well in the Tax Foundation metric, according to Cammenga. Missouri does well, with a rate around 4%; New Jersey's, meanwhile, is the highest in the U.S. at 11.5%.
"Yes, that is partly because of a temporary surcharge, but that surcharge was temporary before and it has been extended now, so 'temporary' is always a dangerous word in the tax policy world," Cammenga said. "New Jersey has been at the bottom of the pile for many years now, which is unfortunate because tax policy really does make a difference in terms of state competitiveness."
Cammenga pointed out that New Jersey has four different business tax brackets, something not all other states do — and this winds up having a deleterious impact.
"Instead of only having the income above that bracket being taxed at that rate, as soon as a company surpasses that threshold, all of their income is taxed at that rate, which makes New Jersey a lot less competitive than other states, in that sense," she said.
Is there hope for the Garden State? The fact that there are two states whose corporate taxes are worse than New Jersey's (Oregon and Delaware) might suggest so, but then there's that rock-bottom overall ranking that gives Cammenga pause.
"It's very important how much states collect, but it's also important how they collect those taxes, because different taxes are going to have different effects on the economy," she said.